… We will blacklist the operators if necessary, Lawan threatens
The Senate on Thursday sum- moned the manage-ment of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) over the high rate of dropped calls and improper regulation of SIM cards.
It also urged the commission to direct network providers to expand network infrastructures and monitor compliance to reduce the rate of dropped calls experienced by Nigerians.
Dropped calls are interruptions that happen during a phone conversation. It occurs when a call ends abruptly, by neither of the callers, due to technical errors.
The summon followed deliberation on a motion on the increasing rate of dropped calls and other unwholesome practices by telecommunications network operators in Nigeria sponsored by Sen. Buhari Abdulfatai and 20 other senators.
Abdulfatai, leading the debate, complained that Nigerians do not have the power to control bundle usage, nor the choice to restrict browsing.
He said all the GSM operators in Nigeria have recently been experiencing terrible congestions on their networks, thus, denying subscribers the ability to make or receive calls successfully.
He said: “Operators also have an unfair advantage with dropped calls from per-minute users as callers end up paying for an entire minute if a call drops in between, especially within the first few seconds.
“Despite the warning issued by the NCC to telecom operators using the dropped call mechanism to defraud Nigerians by deducting money from phone users illegally, no serious penalty has been issued against any operator to date”.
Abdulfatai said that four major operators, namely MTN, Airtel, Etisalat and Globacom, could not provide the rate of dropped calls on their networks.
The lawmakers who took turns to express their displeasure at the high rate of dropped calls said they believe such practice does not happen in Kenya, South Africa and Ghana, and should not happen in Nigeria.
They blamed the NCC for not regulating the activities of the network providers as well as failing to invoke the necessary sanctions against this unwholesome practice.
For instance, Sen. Abba Moro (PDP, Benue South) said the registration process of SIM cards is flawed.
He said the issue is a clear exposition of the abuse to which the Nigerian people and government are subjected.
He stressed the need to recommend and follow up the process of sanctions “because the regulatory agencies are not doing enough.”
“Dropped calls have become a problem. In addition to sanctioning network providers, our regulatory agencies must also be held responsible,” he added.
In his contribution, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who described poor network as a menace, assured that the issue will be tackled.
He said: “This time will be different. We pay through our noses and we are unjustifiably treated by these network providers. Everybody comes here and treat us differently. The DSTV and others do almost the same thing. At the appropriate time, we will have a public hearing.
“The NCC and other relevant agencies will be put to test. We feel they are inefficient and they are not doing enough. We are going to bark and bite this time around and if it requires blacklisting the operators, we will do that,” he said.
While condemning the inefficiency of GSM network providers in the country, the Senate urged the NCC to protect consumers where necessary and to refund them for disrupted calls caused by network issues.
It also asked the commission to allow users have more control over their usage of data bundles.
It also directed the NCC and other relevant agencies to carry out a thorough investigation of the causes of dropped calls in the GSM network and come up with innovations that will improve customer experiences.